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Thompson Coburn helps Yamaha resolve significant injury cases

September 16, 2016

Rick Mueller
Rick Mueller
Jeaniene Dickey
Jeaniene Dickey
Heather Counts
Heather Counts

In recent months Thompson Coburn has continued its longtime litigation work on behalf of Yamaha Motor Corporation USA, with two successful case resolutions in August. 

In the first case, a federal judge in South Carolina granted summary judgment to Yamaha in a personal injury case brought by a woman who was injured while riding a Yamaha VXS WaveRunner®. In 2012, the woman was the fourth passenger on a three-person personal watercraft (PWC). The product carried a warning to wear protective clothing. She did not read the warnings and was not wearing protective clothing. She fell off the craft upon acceleration by a 10-year-old operator and sustained severe orifice injuries. The plaintiff sued in strict liability and negligence and sought punitive damages from Yamaha.

The judge excluded the warnings opinions of the plaintiff’s expert due to a lack of “specific relevant research or studies” to support the opinions. She also noted that, because the plaintiff ignored the warnings, a different warning would not have made a difference. The judge, having eliminated the failure to warn claim, deemed the warnings adequate as a matter of law. As such, the design defect claim was dismissed as well.

The ruling was covered by South Carolina Lawyers Weekly and the BNA Product Safety and Liability Reporter

In the second case, Yamaha successfully settled a wrongful death suit on the first day of trial in Florida. The plaintiff, a tourist from Rhode Island, sustained a severe head injury after falling from a rented Yamaha WaveRunner® driven by his wife. Two weeks later, after surgery on his facial injuries, he died. During expert discovery, motions filed by Thompson Coburn led to the exclusion of key biomechanical opinions against Yamaha. The plaintiff settled with Yamaha for a significantly small amount of money, which left the rental company as an unprepared co-defendant. It settled with the plaintiff later that same day. 

Yamaha was represented in the cases by Rick Mueller and Jeaniene Dickey, with assistance from Heather Counts and Allison Manger